When I was in elementary school, my dad used to pack the car one Saturday in April and drive me and a few friends down to Ann Arbor for the Michigan Football Spring Game. Back then, it was actually a pretty low-key affair. Lloyd Carr never opened the playbook — you know, just in case John Cooper or JoePa happened to be at the Big House for the afternoon.
Some years, the “game” resembled no more than a pregame warm-up stretch. Some years, the offense and defense actually ran a few bare-boned plays on each other.
And, for a youngster like myself, there really wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about other than frantically trying to get players’ autographs after the game.
But last year’s edition wasn’t your typical Michigan Spring Game.
The Rich Rodriguez style is to go all out — that included a game that actually had excitement and, you know, the collective elements that comprise a “sporting event.”
It had the element of surprise; Tate Forcier — at that point an enigma and the team’s most promising sign of hope for the future — played the whole game and gave Michigan fans something to look forward to.
There was also the amazing alumni game, which not only was fun to watch, but it also helped quell some of the rumors and speculation that some former Michigan players were jumping off the RichRod bandwagon.
And fans were treated to a tour of the locker room at the Big House, a very rare and treasured occurrence for the biggest maize-and-blue supporters.
Oh, and don’t forget about the 50,000-plus fans who came, by far the largest crowd ever at a Wolverines’ Spring Game.
My point is this: Rodriguez has made this an event worth going to.
I’ve talked to quite a few students who don’t seem that interested in going to the game.
Maybe it’s the team’s subpar performance in the last few seasons, or maybe it’s the fact that finals are rapidly approaching, but I’m surprised that there are so many students who plan on skipping it.
I’m here to tell you that you should go.
It was a great time last year, and, like then, you’ll get your first chance to see an uber-hyped quarterback in his first appearance in a Michigan uniform.
And if you, like me, are a senior, you’ve got no excuse not to at least check it out. This Saturday is probably the last Michigan sporting event I’ll attend as a student of the University. That lends itself to some pretty mad nostalgia opportunities.
You may disagree with some of the changes Rodriguez has made in his time at Michigan, but the kinks he tweaked out of the Spring Game have really made it a fun experience. And, at the end of the day, you’re still a Michigan fan, and since Michigan fans are not fair-weathered, come support the team.
— Reid can be reached at email@example.com